Chart Watch

Week Ending May 10, 2009: Halle Berry, Now You’ve Made It

Chart Watch

Halle Berry has won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but now she has achieved something that really shows what an icon she has become. She's the subject of a Billboard Hot 100 hit. "Halle Berry (She's Fine)," recorded by Hurricane Chris featuring Superstarr, jumps to #83 in its second week on the chart. (The song is also in the top 25 on the R&B chart.) Berry is the latest in a long line of current celebrities to be cited in the title of a Hot 100 hit. Just in the past 10 years, we've had "Tim McGraw" by Taylor Swift,  "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz and "That's How I Beat Shaq" (about basketball great Shaquille O'Neal) by Aaron Carter. In addition, several chart songs in the past decade have saluted celebrities who had already moved on to that great People photo shoot in the sky. These include "Grace Kelly" by Mika, "Steve McQueen" by Sheryl Crow, "Johnny Cash" by Jason Aldean and "Johnny & June" (about Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash) by Heidi Newfield. Of these celebrities, Berry has the most in common with Grace Kelly, who was also a great beauty who won an Oscar for an unglamorous dramatic role.

Chrisette Michele enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with her sophomore album, Epiphany. This represents a breakthrough for the 26-year-old singer. Her 2007 debut, I Am, opened and peaked at #29. Epiphany sold just 83,000 copies, the lowest sales tally for an album debuting at #1 in Nielsen/SoundScan history (which dates to 1991). The previous low sales tally for an album debuting at #1 was held by Johnny Cash, whose posthumous 2006 release American V: A Hundred Highways opened with sales of 88,000 copies. Only one other album has debuted at #1 with first-week sales of less than 100,000: The Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits, also a posthumous release, which opened with sales of 99,000 in March 2007. Incidentally, the race for #1 this week was the closest we've seen in nearly a year. Epiphany finished less than 2,000 units ahead of Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana: The Album, which holds at #2 for the third straight week. That was the closest margin between the top two albums since August, when Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone finished a little more than 1,000 units ahead of The Game's LAX.

We were bound to run out of good album titles eventually. This is the second time in less than two years that an artist has hit #1 with an album titled Epiphany. T-Pain scored in June 2007 with an album by that name. This is the first time that an album has hit #1 which had the exact same title as a previous #1 album since Madonna's Music topped the chart in 2000. Music was also the title of a 1972 Carole King chart-topper. (I'm discounting two generic titles, Greatest Hits and Unplugged.) Two other albums just missed qualifying because the titles weren't identical. Backstreet Boys topped the chart in 2000 with Black & Blue. The Rolling Stones scored in 1976 with Black And Blue. Godsmack rang the bell in 2006 with IV. Foreigner scored in 1981 with 4.

Twilight logs its 20th week in the top 10. It's the first theatrical movie soundtrack to log 20 weeks in the top 10 since City Of Angels in 1998. The last theatrical movie soundtrack to have a longer run in the top 10 was Space Jam, which had 22 weeks in the top 10 in 1996-1997. The difference between Twilight and these other two soundtracks is that it has remained in the top 10 for months without producing a smash hit. Paramore's "Decode" has been a moderate hit, but R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" (from Space Jam) and Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" (from City Of Angels) were both monster hits. Another soundtrack also makes news this week. Hannah Montana: The Movie logs its sixth week at #1 or #2. Hannah is the first theatrical movie soundtrack to log six weeks in the top two since 8 Mile in 2002-2003.

Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" tops Hot Digital Songs for the sixth straight week. The song sold 215,000 downloads this week, bringing its six-week total to 1,717,000. The top seven songs each sold more than 100,000 downloads this week. Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" holds at #2, 3OH3!'s "Don't Trust Me" jumps from #5 to #3, Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" (featuring T-Pain) holds at #4, Kid Cudi's "Day 'N' Nite" jumps from #6 to #5, Flo Rida's "Sugar" (featuring Wynter) dips from #3 to #6, and Daughtry's "No Surprise" debuts at #7. Daughtry performed the song on American Idol last Wednesday. "No Surprise" is the first song from the group's upcoming second album, Leave This Town, which is due July 14. "It's Not Over," the first song from their smash 2006 album, Daughtry, tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week.

Song Scorecard: Akon's "Right Now (Na Na Na)" also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's Akon's third 2-million seller as a lead artist, following "Smack That" (featuring Eminem) and "Don't Matter"...Pink's "Sober" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads. It's Pink's second million-seller from her Funhouse album. The album's lead single, "So What," has sold more than 3 million downloads...3OH!3's "Don't Trust Me" has, as of this week, sold 1 million downloads in 2009. The engagingly offbeat smash has sold 1,424,000 downloads since its release in late 2008. The song's slightly twisted reference to Helen Keller is the most memorable name-drop in a pop hit since Nickelback's salute in "Rockstar" to Cher and James Dean.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.

1.Chrisette Michele, Epiphany, 83,000.  This new entry sold more than three times as many copies in its first week as Michele's previous album, I Am, which sold 27,000 copies when it debuted in June 2007. Epiphany was boosted by a discounted $2.99 offering at The title song enters at #160 on Hot Digital Songs.

2. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 82,000. The former #1 album logs its third straight week at #2. The movie grossed $2.2 million last weekend, bringing its five-week total to $73.9 million. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which dips to #10.

3. Ciara, Fantasy Ride, 81,000. This new entry is the R&B star's third album in a row to start out in the top three. Her debut, Goodies, bowed at #3 in 2004. Ciara: The Evolution opened at #1 in 2006. The new album was boosted by Ciara's appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Sex Magic" (featuring Justin Timberlake), which inches up to #25.

4. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable, 58,000. The former #1 album slips from #3 to #4. This is its fifth week in the top five. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Here Comes Goodbye," which dips to #71.

5. Bob Dylan, Together Through Life, 51,000. The album slips from #1 to #5 in its second week. The album is a big hit all over the world. It's in the top 10 in such key markets as the U.K., Germany, France, Canada and Australia. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. (Clearly, this guy is no Lady GaGa.)

6. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 41,000. The album dips from #5 to #6. This is its 12th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face," which holds at #2.

7. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 41,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #9 to #7. This is its 24th week in the top 10. That's the longest run in the top 10 for a country album since Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts had 25 weeks in 2005-2006. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story," which dips to #34.

8. Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap, 35,000. The former #1 album slips from #4 to #8 in its third week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, but just barely: "Magnificent" (featuring John Legend) falls to #197. "Maybach Music 2" falls to #199.

9. Ben Harper & Relentless7, White Lies For Dark Times, 34,000. This new entry is Harper's third album in a row to debut in the top 10. Both Sides of The Gun opened at #7 in March 2006. Lifeline bowed at #9 in September 2007. Nearly 15,000 copies of the new album were sold digitally, making this the week's #1 Digital Album. This marks the debut of Harper's new group. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 32,000. The former #1 album slips from #6 to #10. This is its 20th week in the top 10. (See item above.) Paramore's "Decode" dips to #179 on Hot Digital Songs.

Three albums fall out of the top 10 this week. NOW 30 slips from #7 to #12, Heaven & Hell's The Devil You Know plummets from #8 to #56 and Playing For Change's Songs Around The World drops from #10 to #15.

Two Contemporary Christian groups land the highest-charting albums of their careers. Devil Wears Prada's With Roots Above And Branches Below opens at #11. The group's previous album, Plagues, bowed at #57 in August 2007. The group is described as a "Christian, anti-materialist, metal-core band." (It's a narrow niche, but it's theirs.) Devil Wears Prada has the same name as the winning Meryl Streep comedy from 2006.... Newsboys' In The Hands Of God starts at #28. The group has been turning out hit albums since 1996, but this is their first to crack the top 30.

Elliott Yamin's second studio album, Fight For Love, bows at #26. The singer's debut, Elliot Yamin, opened at #3 in March 2007. Yamin finished third on Season 5 of American Idol... Paul Potts' Passione debuts at #33. This new entry is the second album by the Britain's Got Talent winner to debut in the top 40. One Chance opened at #30 in September 2007. All the songs on Passione are sung in Italian...Yusuf's Roadsinger debuts at #41. This is the highest-charting album for Yusuf (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) since 1978's Back To Earth. Yusuf peaked at #52 with his 2006 comeback album, An Other Cup. Stevens had seven top 10 albums in the '70s, from 1971's Tea For The  Tillerman to 1977's Izitso. Catch Bull At Four was the only one to reach #1, but Teaser And The Firecat had the longest run in the top 10 (17 weeks).

The soundtrack to Star Trek bows at #49. This is the highest-charting album associated with the lucrative franchise, topping the soundtrack to the first Star Trek movie, which climbed to #50 in early 1980. The new Star Trek movie grossed $75.2 million in its first weekend to rank #1 at the box-office. (Oddly, there was no soundtrack to the original 1966-1969 TV series. TV soundtracks were rarer back then. This was a missed opportunity, as fans of the TV show are, shall we say, devoted.)

Catalog Report: Point Of Grace's 2007 album How You Live returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums, dislodging Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend. How You Live sold 11,000 copies and would have ranked #53 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

Hatebreed's For The Lions bows at #58. Hatebreed, which first charted in 2002, is, unsurprisingly, the only group whose name starts with the word "hate" to hit the chart. "Love" is vastly more popular, with such groups as Love, Love And Kisses, Love And Rockets, Love Unlimited, Love Unlimited Orchestra, Loverboy and (cheating just a bit) the Lovin' Spoonful, all reaching the top 100.

Heads Up: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, due this Friday, is expected to debut at #1 next week. The band's last studio album, American Idiot, opened at #1 in September 2004. Cam'Ron's Crime Pays will be vying for the #2 spot. The rap veteran has peaked at #2 twice, with 2002's Come Home With Me and 2006's Killa Season. Another rapper, Paul Wall, is expected to chart with Fast Life. Wall's last album, Get Money Stay True, opened at #8 in April 2007. Also due: Aiden's Knives and Gucci Mane's Murder Was The Case.


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